Why do dogs pant?

What is the reason behind that great big open mouthed grin? Dogs pant for a number of reasons, and although it is usually nothing to worry about, sometimes it can be serious. Here are some common reasons as to why dogs pant.

Cooling down

Dogs don’t sweat like we do. Although they do excrete some sweat through their paws, the primary way they cool down is by panting and circulating air throughout their body. Because dogs are not as efficient at cooling themselves down as we are, it is important that they always have access to fresh water and shade.

Most of the time this is nothing to worry about, however if you notice that your dog is excessively panting, he or she could be experiencing heatstroke. Heatstroke can be fatal, so it is imperative that dogs are closely monitored during extreme temperatures, walked during the cooler times of the day, and never left in cars. Please be careful with senior dogs as they are more prone to heatstroke.

Illness

Another reason why dogs pant is illness. If your dog is showing symptoms of being unwell as well as panting, it’s a good idea to visit a vet. It could be that they have ingested something nasty, or it can signify heart problems, obesity or a respiratory illness. Once presented to a clinic, the veterinarian will check the dog’s history and conduct a physical exam, and may also perform an x-ray and blood test.

Excitement or Fear

Dogs also pant when they are excited or scared. You may notice your dog starting to pant during a thunder storm. Many dogs are not too fond of thunder and lightning! This is a normal response but there are many things we can do to reduce their anxiety at this time. Please refer to our article on storm phobias for further information.